The Kinesis Tripster AT gravel and adventure bike has been around for a while now and Marion has ridden hers to quite a few countries on tours and on lots of varied adventures in Scotland so we thought it was about time to write a thorough review.
Marion built this bike for its first trip riding across Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia and Russia so no pressure! It shares the spot on geometry that made the Tripster ATR so popular therefore we figured we could probably trust it. Marion opted for a 54cm over a 51cm, which for her is on the larger size to enable bikepacking bags and bottles to fit a bit easier. As the picture below shows the largest Apidura saddle and bar bags fitted but only just!
Firstly the build
The Tripster AT is designed as a drop bar gravel/adventure focused bike that takes 650b or 700c wheels. Made from the latest scandium aluminium it competes with Carbon offerings for weight and ride quality. With the A for Adventure and T for tour meaning this bike is versatile. How versatile? Well this build tested the limits.
First up she went rather controversially with flat bars being fitted, the rationale being that Marion is not really using it for speed/racing, therefore flat bars let bigger bar bags to be fitted, offer more hand positions and more control on rough roads with a fully bikepack laden bike. She’s not a huge fan of riding on the drops so what is the benefit of drops? With this build we went for cable discs in MTB levers for reliability in remote places – TRP Spykes . Then the flat bars let us fit a MTB clutch based Shimano XT drivetrain with a 2×11 setup to offer maximum gear range without an epic sized rear cassette. Along with the TRP Spyke disc brakes we used a Praxxis Zayante 50:34 road crank with M30 BB rather than the Shimano XT offer.
Wheels were originally the Kinesis Crosslight CX discs but recently she has swapped to the outstanding Reynolds ATR 650b gravel wheels and hasn’t looked back. These wheels transform any bike in terms of acceleration and cornering stiffness at a decent price for carbon rims too.
Tyres for touring on the Tripster AT were our favourite reliable Continental Travel Contacts.
When not touring she has been using the WTB Resolutes 650b x 42mm we love so much.
We’ve fitted up to 47mm width tyres with still more space so there’s plenty of tyre clearance in the frame and matching AT fork for wider.
How does it ride?
First up it doesn’t ride like you’d expect for an aluminium bike, it is impressively compliant and comfortable, it’s a lot more how a steel or Ti bike rides with no numbness in the arms like we’ve had on other aluminium bikes. Then the weight is impressively light, picking it up for the first time will certainly surprise you. This is because the frame uses Scandium alloy which is about the best you can buy, then it uses super plastic forming, which is a clever way to get the shapes that provide the ride characteristics they wanted. Essentially it as clever as aluminium gets and rides better for it.
Now being honest the flat bars work to an extent, as Marion wanted they give a good selection of hand positions and a comfy upright position for long days, which in hindsight proved particularly useful as Marion used the bike a lot while pregnant riding across central Asia’s bumpy roads! Flat bars do impact on the reach, as obviously drop bars extend the reach significantly and we initially used a stem which was too short. Switching to a longer stem was better but there is no getting away from the fact the bike geometry is better suited to drops and is what almost everyone else will use! However as a comfy distance munching gravel bike it works with flat bars and it especially served it’s purpose while touring when pregnant, a pretty niche scenario we know, but others with bad backs etc. might appreciate this set up too.
A few things we noticed were the rear thru-axle nut can fall out easily and get lost as we discovered. I think this might have been changed on later models. Then it could benefit from a longer head tube to aid the bikepacking bag fit, but to be fair the head tube at 160mm for medium frame is longer than much of the competition in this size.
As most of you will probably know, this bike was designed with feedback from the late Mike Hall and clever graphics and attention to detail certainly reflect this. Despite lots of use and flights too it has held up really well as the pictures show.
It’s a great bike at a lower price than the Titanium and we’d strongly recommend considering it for adventure cycling given the fact it will hold up better than less travel robust carbon offerings and then there’s the growing argument for choosing metal frames over less environmentally friendly carbon. Without money as a factor we’d still stick with the Ti Tripster ATR, despite the great selection of colours tempting Ed away from his ATR but the AT is a great option for most riders out there.